Earlier this year, I met some visionary leaders in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest. They’re landowners living at the intersection of ecology, business, and culture in one of the world’s most important and threatened bioregions.
David Tassara, an agronomist by training and coffee farmer by choice, walked us through his fields and showed how he’s restoring native tree species to protect natural groundwater springs on land long-ago converted from forest to agriculture. These trees (such as the regal Araucaria or Brazilian Pine) help to recharge groundwater aquifers, filter out pollutants, and control erosion —all of which is good for his coffee crop, for the local ecosystem and for the community.
Jose Fernandes has somewhat different motives but employs similar tactics. An entrepreneur operating a chain of eco-themed lodges, his passion is connecting people with disabilities to the natural world. When he discovered some relatively accessible waterfalls at the edge of the forest on his land, he realized that native tree restoration could help to maintain these resources and increase the flow of water, potentially attracting more guests.
Both David and Jose are examples of the “triple bottom-line” in action. And they are just two of many landowner partners in the Raizes do Mogi Guaçu (Mogi Guaçu Roots) program led by WWF and supported by International Paper. Working with local tree-planting organization Copaíba, this program sets out to restore forests in priority areas across the Mogi Guaçu landscape to build corridors connecting remnant forest patches and to support the flow of water.
It occurred to me that at International Paper our approach to environmental stewardship has a lot in common with these landowners. First, we’re guided by what we call the IP Way: to do the right things, in the right ways, for the right reasons, all of the time. That means acting responsibly and sustainably at our facilities, within our supply chains, and beyond.
We look for opportunities to advance the long-term sustainability of natural capital in places that are ecologically important and where we have a strategic interest. The Atlantic Forest is a great example; it’s a biodiversity hotspot that generates over 60% of Brazil’s water supply, which is increasingly threatened by deforestation and climate change. The region is also home to two of our paper mills. Located in the Mogi Guaçu River basin, these manufacturing operations depend on a sustainable supply of water.
And therein lies the parallel to David, Jose, and many others like them. Just as they’re protecting water features on their land to support their own livelihoods, the Raizes project seeks to scale that impact across the landscape to preserve and improve water resources in the region. This benefits ecosystems, communities, and industries like ours.
At International Paper we’ve recently announced our Vision 2030 goals, through which we will further our vision to be among the most successful, sustainable, and responsible companies in the world. We’re elevating our approach to some of our most important environmental impact areas, including carbon emissions, water stewardship, and sustainable forestry. Our goals are ambitious, and their success demands collaboration. The Raizes do Mogi Guaçu program is an excellent model for how to make that happen.
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of WWF.